Wait Park Will Again Be Party Central for the Fourth of July

There may not be a parade or some of the usual festivities, but don’t be surprised if Wait Park in downtown Canby winds up looking — and sounding — a whole like the Fourth of July this Independence Day anyway.

That’s because local leaders, business owners and other groups have banded together to organize a fun, musical event on July Fourth to celebrate the Canby community and the nation’s independence.

“We got approached because the city wasn’t going to put on a Fourth of July celebration — which was different than banning it. It wasn’t banned. They just couldn’t do it,” Canby Music owner Brian Haines explained. “So, some people contacted me about doing the sound here, and I said, ‘I’ll do the sound; I’ll do live music; I’ll do the whole thing.'”

Haines quickly rallied his usual Canby Music team, along with past bandmates, students and other musicians in town, and told organizers he would provide tunes throughout the day — free of charge.

Other business owners and local leaders joined the charge. Canby Area Chamber Director Kyle Lang began putting together a classic car show to surround the park and make the event more free-flowing and walkable.

The Canby Farmers Market, which was already planning to do an expanded, Independence Day-themed market on Sunday, also lent its support to the festivities.

On North Grant Street, The Book Nook will offer a sidewalk sale that day, while neighboring Ebner’s Custom Meats will have their barbecue pit fired up in true Fourth of July fashion.

“We’re all putting it together, and we’re all kind of in charge of our own thing,” Haines said. “But yeah, as citizens and as business owners, we’re going to make the Fourth of July happen.”

The occasion is something of a return to the event’s roots, as the celebration formerly known as General Canby Days was run by local volunteers from 1982 until 2015, when the organizing committee dissolved and the city took over.

Haines played at the Wait Park gazebo during General Canby Days for many years. This summer’s event will be something of a reunion concert for him.

“We’ll have some people I used to play July Fourth with 10 years ago,” he said.

Before the pandemic, the annual parade and celebration was one of the most well-attended events in the Canby area — drawing record crowds of more than 10,000 in 2019.

Haines and the Canby Music team eventually moved on from the stationary stage of Wait Park, preferring to participate in the Independence Parade through north Canby.

“When we’re on the float and we’re driving through town, I get to see all of these people that I know from town,” Haines said. “We’re waving to them, playing music and watching kids dance to it. Everybody’s out, everybody’s having a good time and enjoying themselves. It’s just a great community event.”

Local singer/songwriter Aly Whelchel, a newer employee at Canby Music, will be performing at the Independence Day concert for the first time.

“I always loved coming to the Fourth of July. It was such a blast to see everybody come together, having a good time, good food,” she said. With a laugh, she added, “The parade was always my favorite, because you get candy, you know. Never too old for candy.

Haines admitted he was disappointed the parade was not able to happen this year, and not just because of the event itself. It’s also because he has a personal Independence Day tradition that he will miss — though his neighbors might not.

“We set up the float that morning in front of my house because we don’t want to leave our equipment out overnight,” he explained. “So we set up, and as soon as 7 a.m. hits, I crank that music.” He laughed. “I wake up all the neighbors. It’s like ‘Hey, it’s the Fourth of July! Wake up, everybody. Time to party'”

This year’s set list includes more than 40 songs, from fun summer favorites like Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the U.S.A.” to feel-good classics like “Here Comes the Sun.”

The Canby Farmers Market on North Holly Street kicks off at 9 a.m. July 4, while the music, car show and most other festivities at the park are expected to run from 10 to 2.

“Come out enjoy the Fourth of July,” Haines said. “Then, everybody go home early, and get ready for the explosions.”

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